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Woza founder members in custody for refusing to pay bail
Tichaona Sibanda, SW Radio Africa
December 07, 2007

Twenty members from Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise were arrested in Sakubva, Mutare on Thursday for attending a meeting that was scheduled to discuss domestic violence.

The activists were charged under the Criminal Law Act and told to pay a fine of Z$40 000 each. 18 activists paid the fines and were released, but two leading members of Woza, Magodonga Mahlangu and Clara Manjengwa, refused to pay and are still in detention.

Shepherd Ndlovu, a member of Men of Zimbabwe Arise, said police charged the activists with attending an illegal meeting in an open space in Sakubva.

Ndlovu said a group of approximately 90 people had gathered for the meeting before police officers stopped them from proceeding. The police force-marched eight men and twelve women, three of them with babies, over a kilometre to Sakubva Police Station.

According to a statement from Woza, during the march to the police station, several of the members were handcuffed.

'At the police station, the group was denied access to their lawyer and also denied food. Some members were beaten. Police informed the group that as most were not carrying their national identification cards, they had broken the law and should pay fines. Without access to legal counsel to advise that this was inaccurate, most members believed they had no other option than to pay the fines and were released at 7pm,' the statement added.

It is believed Mahlangu and Manjengwa refused to buy their way out of police cells, insisting that they did not commit any crime. Ndlovu said they believe the police want to punish the duo for their stance by saying they will take them to court on Monday, forcing them to spend the weekend in cells.

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